Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Chemistry {a Master Books review}

I have used lots of materials from Master Books, and have always been very pleased with the quality of their books. In the past few years, they have been greatly expanding their course offerings and creating materials that look a lot more traditional. By that I mean that their high school science offerings included courses like Basic Pre-Med and Survey of Science History & Concepts.

Now they have a textbook for Chemistry, written by Dr. Dennis Englin. There is also a parent guide to go with this, which schedules the course out into daily assignments and includes worksheets and tests. I have not seen that, except for the samples.

I did receive the pdf version of the text, and have been working through it myself. The book is gorgeous, with loads of color. Dr. Englin writes in a conversational tone that doesn’t intimidate. I love that.

The book contains 28 chapters, and each chapter includes a lab assignment. I think lab work is really important, but so much of it tends to be either expensive or silly. I get very frustrated with that.

In this course, the labs tend to me more practical, and they actually teach something. You start off with a lab that makes you think through the scientific method, then in chapter two you are working with the metric system and significant digits. This is hugely important.


When I taught physical science to middle school students a few years ago, the whole idea of significant digits was one they really struggled to grasp.  This gets to be pretty important as you move into more advanced sciences.  I was thrilled that Dr. Englin doesn't assume students (or their parents) do grasp this idea.  He teaches it again.

I love the images used, with pictures of a dozen donuts when they introduce Avodgadro's number.  The photo really draws you in -- what in the world do donuts have to do with chemistry?

Or this, from Chapter 6, with a whole lot of paint and paint brushes.

What is "molar" anyway, and what does it have to do with painting?  I think the photos really do leave you wondering a bit, and that can only be a good thing.  It got me to read enough to figure out why they chose this particularly colorful image.

This book also does something I really love, including little sidebar types of sections about scientists.  That helps make science more real, I think, when you are learning something about the people behind the ideas.

The one pictured here is about Henry Louis Le Chatelier, and is introduced in Chapter 7.  Balancing equations hasn't been the fun part of chemistry for any of my students, but learning a bit about the guy behind some of it definitely helps!

If you peruse the table of contents, this course really does cover all that I expect a high school chemistry class to cover.  It is easy to read, bright, engaging...

Two thumbs up from this mama.

Disclaimer:   I received this ebook for free from Master Books.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.

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